Amtrak, Not Metra, Could be Area's First Passenger Rail Service
Amtrak could be stopping trains in Oswego by 2014.
A Metra stop in Oswego could be 10 to 15 years away; an Amtrak stop, on the other hand, could be here in just three years.
That was the message sent by Congressman Randy Hultgren, R-14th District, and Oswego Village President Brian LeClercq on Tuesday night at a gathering of officials from across Kendall County at Allied First Bank on Orchard Road.
The timeline isn’t the only shrinking number connected to the project. The price tag for securing an Amtrak stop near Orchard and Mill roads would be $6 million to $10 million. The price tag for a Metra stop would be $120 million more than that.
“Ideally, we would love to have a Metra station (in Kendall County),” Hultgren said. “We also know that’s a challenge, and so we’re open to other things (like Amtrak.) It doesn’t solve the problem, but it’s a much more doable number. Really, what we have to do is create more jobs and transportation is to key to creating jobs.”
Hultgren, who sits on the House Transportation Committee and Rail Subcommittee, said he will fight for federal funding in the latest transportation bill to help get the project started. He said he hopes the bill passes by the end of this year or the beginning of 2012.
Representatives from several Kendall County communities, including Yorkville’s community development director, Montgomery’s village president and Plano’s mayor, were on hand to show their support for the Amtrak proposal.
LeClercq said Kendall County has a much better chance of seeing an Amtrak stop in the near-term with Metra being a long-term goal.
“(With Amtrak,) we think by making a small investment we can get a huge return regionally,” he said.
Amtrak officials have stated their desire to begin service between Chicago and the Quad Cities by 2014. Oswego could be a stop on that line. Federal, state and local funding would need to be secured for the project. LeClercq said local funding would come in the form of parking for the facility, which Oswego already has with the Park-n-Ride lot. The state would be required to match federal funding.
LeClercq said he has discussed the proposal with state reps. Tom Cross and Kay Hatcher and has received support from both.
Montgomery village president Marilyn Michelini said residents will be able to support an Amtrak stop if they see all levels of government working together.
“Residents and taxpayers like to see us working together to achieve these goals,” she said. “This is a much-needed project out here. Without transportation out here companies won’t move out here.”
Plano is already a stop on Amtrak’s line from Chicago to Quincy. Mayor Bob Hausler said there are two stops inbound to the city everyday along with two outbound stops.
A one-way, approximately one-hour, trip to the city costs riders $8 to $21, depending on the day. By comparison, a one-way ticket to the city on Metra from the Aurora transportation center costs $6 if purchased on the train. The Plano station has an average daily ridership of about 16 passengers. The only two stops between Plano and the city are Naperville and La Grange on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line.
Metra commissioned an engineering study for a station at Orchard and Mill roads in August, and that work is underway. LeClercq said that study could also be used by Amtrak.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to more accurately reflect the cost of a trip from Plano to Chicago.